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The 6 Best Cameras For Portraits - Summer 2024 Reviews

Updated May 31, 2024 at 01:45 pm
Best Camera For Portraits

While the latest smartphones can manage some pretty impressive portrait photos, the artificial background blur generated by your phone's 'portrait mode' doesn't compare to the background separation you can achieve with a dedicated DSLR or mirrorless camera and a good lens. Thankfully, if you're looking to start shooting high-quality portraits, there's no shortage of excellent cameras to suit every budget and experience level. If you're just getting started, you should know that lighting, lenses, and composition will matter just as much as, if not more than, the camera body you use. That means that the best camera for portrait photography will be the one that lets you go out and start practicing sooner, even if that's an older or cheaper model.

While a full-frame camera will make it easier to get the background blur and bokeh favored by portrait photographers, an APS-C or even Micro Four Thirds option with the right lens can still get you fantastic results. Although a high megapixel count is great if you're making prints, don't put too much stock in how many megapixels your camera has—most modern digital cameras offer more than enough to capture fine detail, especially for online sharing.

Having said all that, we've bought and tested over 100 cameras in our lab, and below, we've narrowed down the best portrait photography cameras for most people. Alternatively, if you're looking for more well-rounded options for different kinds of photography, try our best cameras for photography more broadly. If you're looking for a full-frame model, check out our list of the best full-frame mirrorless cameras. If this is your first camera, you might want to check out our best cameras for beginners instead.

  1. Best Camera For Portraits

    Though it might be overkill for some, the Sony α7 IV is the best camera for portraits we've tested. With a high-resolution full-frame sensor, it's a great choice for high-quality portrait work, whether you're a pro or simply sharing your work online. The camera also has a fantastic autofocus system with sophisticated eye AF for precise focusing. While a quick and responsive autofocus isn't as absolutely essential for portraits as it is for, say, sports photography, knowing you don't have to worry about focus frees you up to engage more with your subjects, which is a big plus. Beyond that, the camera's in-body image stabilization (IBIS) system can help you get clear handheld shots at slower shutter speeds in less controlled lighting conditions.

    Sony's E-mount ecosystem includes a wide range of native and third-party lenses well-suited for portrait work. The Sony FE 85mm f/1.8, for instance, offers a lot of value if you're looking at native lenses, but don't overlook third-party options from manufacturers like Tamron or Sigma. If you're strictly shooting portraits and don't need the advanced video features of the α7 IV, the Sony α7 III is still an excellent choice that'll cost you less, although it uses a lower-resolution sensor and an older autofocus system.

    See our review

  2. Best ASP-C Camera For Portraits

    The Fujifilm X-H2 is one of the highest-resolution APS-C cameras on the market, with a whopping 40.2-megapixel sensor. It can capture incredibly detailed photos and gives you plenty of leeway to crop and reframe your portraits if needed. It also has a highly sturdy build, with a body and handling geared toward enthusiasts and pros, along with an exceptionally high-res EVF. If you prefer a more portable body, the Fujifilm X-T5 uses the exact same sensor and has a more strictly photography-oriented design. It's even a little cheaper but lacks some of the X-H2's video features.

    Although full-frame cameras have an advantage when it comes to bokeh, it's still possible to get creamy backgrounds and shallow depths of field with an APS-C sensor if you use the right lens. It helps that Fujifilm offers some very fast XF mount lenses that are ideal for this. The XF 56mm F1.2 R, for instance, can open up very wide to get a shallower depth of field with a focal length that's well-suited to portrait work on an APS-C sensor. That said, you might be all set with a more affordable third-party option like the excellent Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN, which is one of the best-value portrait lenses you can get for an APS-C body.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Camera For Portraits

    The Nikon Z 5 is a great mid-range option if you want a full-frame camera at a lower price point. This is a steal of a camera, especially if you don't do any video work on the side. It isn't as versatile for other kinds of photography because of its slow max burst rate, but its high-resolution sensor captures stunning image quality. Nikon's ergonomics are also fantastic, and the camera feels sturdy and well-built, with a high-res EVF and tilting screen. Battery life is also great for a mirrorless model. Overall, it's an excellent camera that offers a lot of value for portrait photographers.

    Nikon's Z mount lenses are excellent, though lens selection is more limited than what's available for Sony models like the Sony α7 IV above or the Sony α6400 below. Still, Nikon's S Line, in particular, offers some incredibly high-quality glass. Though expensive, the Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8 S is one of the best options for portraits if you want to go all-in on the Z system.

    See our review

  4. Best Entry-Level Camera For Portraits

    The Canon EOS R10 is one of the best-value APS-C cameras around. It's a beginner-friendly entry-level option with a highly intuitive user interface and great ergonomics. It's fairly lightweight and portable, too, making it easy to carry around throughout longer shooting sessions. Plus, it uses Canon's highly sophisticated and reliable autofocus system, which includes more precise eye detection and tracking.

    While this is a very well-rounded mirrorless camera for the price, lens options are still limited for Canon's RF mount, with very few third-party options. That said, you can adapt older EF or EF-S lenses perfectly using Canon's EF-EOS R adapter, though it comes at an additional cost and will add a bit of bulk. Still, it'll considerably open up your lens options, allowing you to use portrait lenses like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, which offers a ton of value for its price.

    See our review

  5. Best Budget Camera For Portraits

    If you're on a tighter budget, the Sony α6400 is a great mirrorless option to get you started in portrait photography. It's a portable crop-sensor camera with a sturdy build and a high-resolution APS-C sensor. Its ergonomics pale compared to the Canon EOS R10 or Nikon Z 5, but some people may find it's worth the trade-off for added portability. It also has a lot of customization options to tailor the controls to your preferences. On top of that, you have Sony's ever-reliable autofocus system with precise eye AF, making this a versatile camera that won't break the bank.

    As a bonus, this camera uses the same lens mount as the higher-end Sony α7 IV, so you'll have access to the same stable of great lens options, including full-frame FE and crop sensor E lenses. That also makes it easier to upgrade to a full-frame Sony body down the line if you choose to do so. The kit lens is fine to cut your teeth on if you're just starting, but a lens like the Sigma 56mm f/1.4 DC DN is one of many excellent third-party options for portraits if you outgrow the kit lens.

    See our review

  6. Best Cheap Camera For Portraits

    If you're looking for a cheap dedicated camera for portraits, the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D is about as cheap as it gets, short of buying a camera secondhand. It's an incredibly simple DSLR with an easy-to-use interface and minimal physical controls. You won't find extra features like weather-sealing or even a tilting screen here, but it has a solid 24-megapixel sensor that, paired with a decent lens, can get you great results on a budget. There are also some relatively affordable lens options for the EF-S mount, including the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8, one of the best bang-for-your-buck lenses out there.

    If you want to stretch your budget a little, the slightly pricier Canon EOS Rebel SL3 or Nikon D3500 are great options with better processors and sturdier builds. The D3500 even has a built-in Guide Mode to walk novice users through the basics of photography. But if you're on a very tight budget or leave more room in your budget for lenses, the T7 is an accessible camera that makes for a good entryway into "proper" photography.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark IV: The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a pro-grade full-frame DSLR with a high-resolution sensor. It's a great choice for portrait photos with many lens options. That said, its autofocus system isn't as sophisticated as the Sony α7 IV's, and this camera doesn't have IBIS. See our review
  • Canon EOS R: The Canon EOS R may have been discontinued, but if you can find one, it's a great deal for portrait photographers. With a high-resolution sensor and EVF, it's well-suited to photography. However, it isn't as well-rounded as newer models. See our review
  • Canon EOS R6 Mark II: The Canon EOS R6 Mark II is a great alternative to the Sony α7 IV if ergonomics are a priority. The cameras are evenly matched for photography, but the Sony model does have a higher-resolution sensor, and the Canon has a less established lens ecosystem. See our review
  • Nikon D780: The Nikon D780 is a fantastic full-frame DSLR with better ergonomics than the Sony α7 IV. It has a great hybrid AF system and plenty of portrait lens options. However, it lacks IBIS and has a lower-resolution sensor than the Sony. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. May 31, 2024: We brushed up some of the text throughout the article for clarity, with no change to our recommended picks.

  2. Apr 04, 2024: We've reviewed the picks, availability, and prices to ensure they're still the best choice for users.

  3. Feb 05, 2024: Replaced the Fujifilm X-T5 with the Fujifilm X-H2 and renamed it the 'Best APS-C Camera For Portraits'.

  4. Dec 08, 2023: Added the Canon EOS R10 as the 'Best Entry-Level Camera For Portraits' because of its user-friendly design and the value it offers for its price.

  5. Oct 13, 2023: Reviewed picks for accuracy and clarity; no change to recommendations.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cameras for portrait photography for most people to buy, according to their budget. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).

If you'd like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our camera reviews. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, ergonomic preferences, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.